It’s Been Ok

Notre Dame, IN (UHND) – When Corwin Brown talked with the media on Monday, he didn’t mince words. “We’ve got some to work. Eventually we’ll be ok. There’s something we need to clean up defensively to be on the same page, sort of shore-up some things, but It’s been ok,” he said.

Not exactly a ringing endorsement for his defense, but coming off a 3-9 season, complacency is something Brown and the other Irish coaches cannot afford to allow to even creep into their player’s minds this spring.

“Technique-wise, like running pressures and running stunts. I want it perfect like right now,” Brown said very matter-of-factly on Monday. He would add, “We want guys when they blitz, to blitz perfect right now – the right departure angles, the right gaps. If I’m a cover guy, I want to transition at the right time. I want to stay on top when I’m supposed to. I want to pass things when I’m supposed to.”

To reach that level of perfection, Brown intends on not wasting any time this spring working with his young defense. “You can’t afford to waste days or waste time,” Brown said. “It’s one of those deals where every time you’re out there are certain things that you try to get accomplished. When you don’t get accomplished what you set out, you can’t get that day back.”

Something Brown and the Irish have already accomplished is getting more physical in practices. Since the loss to Michigan State last season, Charlie Weis had said that practices were going to be more physical and this spring, the Irish are being more physical than they have ever been under Weis.

“They’ve been more physical already this year,” Brown said of the four spring practices held thus far.

Those more physical practices are something that Brown certainly endorses. “I think that’s good for us because it allows us to kind of establish ourselves and set a tempo and set a tone and set a bar to how we want to play and what we want to do.”

“Absolutely, because when you’re playing patty cake, you really don’t know what guys are going to do. When you’re allowed to go hit someone in the mouth, guy’s that do it, it’s good. So, it’s a good thing.
Brown didn’t throw around too many compliments on Monday, but he did have some high praise for junior corner back Darrin Walls.

“His style of play kind of reminds me of Troy Vincent. I watched Troy a lot in college and then in the league,” said Brown of his young starting corner. “He’s got a lot of tools, so we’ll see.”

I think it’s safe to say that any Notre Dame fan would be absolutely giddy if Walls’s career followed the same path as the former 7th overall pick Vincent who went to five Pro Bowls and was named an All Pro three times during an illustrious 16 year career in the NFL with the Dolphins, Eagles, Bills, and Redskins.

Despite the complimentary comparison, Brown acknowledge that Walls still isn’t at that level. “You really don’t know how high his ceiling is. I’ve been around some pretty good corners, played with them, coached them – so he’s got a high ceiling. He’s got to press the issue to get there. “

One area Walls does seem to be improving though, is being physical. “He hit some guys toward the end of last year so that’s not even a question,” Brown explained when asked if Walls was being more physical.

Walls wasn’t the only player who drew props from Monday though. He had some good things to say about a handful of players such as Gary Gray, Morrice Richardson, and Kyle McCarthy.

Gray, who missed all of last season due to injury is finally getting to participate fully in practice after breaking his arm last spring. “He’s a young guy and he’s got a lot to learn, which I kind of expected, but he’ll be okay.”

As for Richardson, who recently moved from outside linebacker to defensive end, Brown had this to say. “He’s playing well and he’s got a good motor right now. When you’ve a good motor, that’s a good starting point. He’s got a really good motor.”

As he did with Walls though, he cautioned that Richardson still has some work to do. “He’s just like any other guy, that they’re out there and doing some things well, but at the same time there are certain things that we still need to clean up.”

McCarthy will be battling for the starting strong safety spot left vacated by the graduation of Tom Zbikowski and so far, Brown says the senior is doing well.
“He’s a guy that didn’t play a ton last year. He played some. Anytime you’re in that situation, experience is always the best teacher. The more experience he gets, the better he will be. He’s okay, he’s doing well.”

As Brown made mention to several times on Monday however, he won’t be happy until his players have it down perfect and while there are signs of encouragement, it’s still too early to get overly excited about one player or another.

“I don’t know, it’s still early,” he said when asked whether or not there were some players who thrive with the physical practices. “Probably in another week I’ll know more because it’s really only been two days of full pads. But we have got after it pretty good early but you want it to be perfect.”

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